Still No Relief from Alzheimer's

Despite public pressure, the FDA will not approve a touted drug until there is more evidence that it really works

Woodrow Wirsig shudders to recall his wife Jane's gradual 10-year decline from Alzheimer's disease. At the low point, she was mute and immobile. But then in 1987, as part of an experimental program, she was put on the drug tacrine. "Within weeks," says Wirsig, of Palm City, Fla., "she could walk and talk and recognize me from 90 ft." Such stories have given tacrine a reputation as a Lazarus drug, the one medication that could recall to life loved ones who are losing control of their minds and bodies.

But access to the experimental drug is strictly limited, and for years...

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